Hollins Townhouses restored, affordable


In the area around Hollins Market in West Baltimore, more than 50 restored town houses used as rental housing have been put up for sale, at prices ranging from $60,000 to $120,000.

Known as the Hollins Townhouses, the 54 historic properties represent one of the largest single groups of rehabilitated residences ever to go on the market at one time near Hollins Market and Union Square.

With state funding assistance that enables them to be sold for little or no down payment and at below-market interest rates, they also represent an opportunity for renters to become first-time buyers.

"We want to promote homeownership," said Herbert Davis of Herbert Davis Associates, the company handling sales. With the special financing, "we're selling these houses for less [per month] than people there are currently paying in rent. That's what it boils down to."

The houses represent the entire portfolio of Hollins Market Limited Partnership and Market Mews Limited Partnership, two groups headed by Stephen Loewentheil and his father Howard. They began acquiring and renovating the buildings about 10 years ago, taking advantage of tax credits for rehabilitation of historic properties.

According to Mr. Davis, the Loewentheils had always planned to sell the houses after waiting at least five years, the minimum time required to maintain them as rental units to qualify for the tax credits.

Now that the five-year period is up, Mr. Davis said, the houses have been offered for occupancy starting this summer.

The two- and three-story houses are mainly in the 1000, 1200 and 1300 blocks of Hollins Street, with a few nearby on Lombard, Carey and Arlington streets. Most of them are more than 100 years old. Some have one unit. Others have two units, which makes them ideal for owners who want to live in one unit and rent out the other to help cover the mortgage.

According to the sales agents, the sellers have agreed, for a limited time, to pay all standard closing costs except items that must be prepaid into an escrow account with a lender, such as annual property taxes, hazard insurance and mortgage insurance.

On an $82,000 house, for example, total settlement costs would be $2,040, and the total mortgage payment would be $566 per month for buyers who meet state eligibility requirements, according to the sales agents.

Typically, the cash required to purchase a home is at least 10 percent, which would be $8,200 for an $82,000 house, they say.

Under an agreement between the sellers, the city of Baltimore and the state's Community Development Administration, assumable mortgages with a 5 percent rate are available for one-unit houses to buyers who will occupy the property and whose income does not exceed $32,000 for a single person or $35,500 for a total household.

Rates of 7 7/8 percent are available to single buyers who will

occupy the property and whose annual incomes do not exceed $35,500 or to households whose incomes don't exceed $44,000.

A 9 percent interest rate applies to buyers who have incomes of more than $47,100. The maximum mortgage for two-family properties is $127,500.

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